(director/writer: David Marmor; cinematographer: David Bolen; editors: Richard Fox, David Marmor, Anna Rotke; music: Ronen Landa; cast: Nicole Brydon Bloom (Sarah), Alan Blumenfeld (Sarah’s Father), Susan Davis (Edie Stanhope), Naomi Grossman (Janice), Clayton Hoff (Lester), Giles Matthey (Brian), Taylor Nichols (Jerry), Earnestine Phillips (Esther), Curtis Webster (Charles D. Ellerby), Celeste Sully (Lisa); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Allard Cantor, Nic Izzi, Alok Mishra, Jarrod Murray, Samuel Sandweiss, Shane Vorster; Dark Sky Films; 2019)
“An unsettling psychological thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
David Marmor, in his directorial debut, assuredly helms this low-budget indie. It’s a freaky horror/thriller, set in LA, that tells about the travails of finding the right city apartment. The heroine ends up as a new tenant in a tight-knit community apartment complex and finds herself dealing with the unexpected.
Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) is a young woman who aspires to be a fashion designer. After a bad fight with her dad (Alan Blumenfeld) over his cheating on mom, moves to a motel and works at a temp job at a law firm. As she tries for a fresh start living on her own, she lucks out finding a low rent one-bedroom apartment at the appealing Asilo Del Mar Apartment Complex in LA. It’s in a good neighborhood, the other tenants are super friendly and her apartment is to her liking. However, she lied on her application about having a pet cat (the building has a no-pet policy) and therefore is paranoid about keeping her cat out of sight.
Sarah welcomes the flirtations of her handsome neighbor Brian (Giles Matthey), makes friends with an actress named Edie (Susan Davis), and is pleased that the building manager Jerry (Taylor Nichols) and his wife Janice (Naomi Grossman) invite her to all the building activities. She seems happier than she’s been in a long time.
But hold on … the pipes rattle at night giving her a sleeping problem, she receives anonymous threatening notes about her cat and is startled by a mysterious visitor’s shadows seen across her room.
Well, we knew things would turn when all the tenants seemed so smiley and friendly in a horror pic. Things take a turn to the macabre, as there’s something creepy about the tenants acting so friendly (we learn that the building takes on the philosophy of a West Coast guru -Curtis Webster-preaching Mao-like stuff about the positives of living in a strong community that sticks together). The surprises that come are because something sinister is going down to Sarah.
What results is an unsettling psychological thriller revealing brainwashing torture scenes as lessons (which serve as initiations into community living), as there’s a cult mentality and group think philosophy haunting the building. The climax takes us onto a powerful conclusion that gets our attention about what community here means.
It’s a Rosemary’s Baby like genre cult film, only it’s superficial in its psychological makeup. It sends the message that there are many possible dangers to be encountered for the loner not accepted in their community. But its message only goes skin deep despite its great premise, as it means to go deeper but doesn’t.
REVIEWED ON 5/20/2020 GRADE: B